All Pandemic travel restrictions to Canada are over, making now a great time to head to the border and enjoy Ontario.

For two and a half years, it’s been either impossible or difficult to get into Canada.

That’s all over.

The Canadian government announced that, effective Oct. 1, all travel restrictions are lifted.

According to the official press release: “Starting October 1, 2022, all COVID-19 border requirements, including vaccination, mandatory use of ArriveCAN, and any testing and quarantine/isolation requirements will end for all travellers entering Canada whether by land, air or sea.”

The border shut down completely in March 2020. When it reopened, travel was still considered difficult by many due to mandatory proof of vaccination and registration on the website ArriveCAN. There was also the risk of being randomly COVID-tested upon entering the border.

The results were predictable.

Niagara Falls Tourism reports that American visitors dropped from 5 million to zero in March 2020 and, since then, has slowly rebounded to only about half of the pre-pandemic levels.

“We have so many visitors that traditionally came from the United States, almost 30 percent,” says Janice Thomson, president and CEO of Niagara Falls Tourism. “Now we need to get the message out that crossing is not difficult at all.”

At the other end of Lake Erie, officials are also celebrating a back-to-normal border.

“We are very excited to welcome back our American friends as travel restrictions have been lifted in Canada,” says Gordon Orr, the CEO of Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island. “Being a border market, over 25% of our visitation comes from the U.S.”

Orr says that his pocket of Ontario — which includes lakefront wineries, charming coastal towns, Point Pelee National Park and Caesars Windsor — is ready for anyone who wants to make the most of fall travel.

“For long weekends,” he says, “Windsor Essex is the perfect getaway destinations.”

While Niagara Falls has long been a popular tourist attraction, Thomson notes there is new attraction worth a trip this fall. The Tunnel at the Niagara Parks Power Station, which opened in July, descends 180 feet, taking visitors to a platform at the very base of the falls.

Starting Nov. 12, visitors can also take in the Winter Festival of Lights, which boasts more than 3 million twinkling lights and an illuminated Niagara Falls.

“We want people to know how much we value and appreciate out American neighbors and friends,” says Thomson. “And how much we’re looking forward to seeing them back.”

Check out more of what Ontario has to offer in our Best of Lake Erie issue, including scrumptious butter tarts, Pelee Island history and acres and acres of grapes.

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